Wimbledon Finals

I tuned in about 5 minutes late to watch the Ladies’ Final at Wimbledon over the weekend.  Serena Williams was a heavy favorite to win her 24th Grand Slam Tournament and I thought it would be worth the 60-90 minutes it would take to see her achievement.  I pretty much had the time estimate right; the match lasted an hour, but the winner was Simona Halep in straight sets, 6-2 and 6-2.  History was not made in this Finals match – unless you count the fact that this is Halep’s first win at Wimbledon – but hers was a dominant performance, nonetheless.

I was much later tuning into the Men’s Final at Wimbledon; it was the beginning of the third set when I looked in.  This match was anything but a one-sided domination; Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer “traded haymakers” for the next three sets and the outcome was in doubt until the last “game” of the final set.  The final scoring summary for the match was 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 (7-3).

Congratulations to Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic.  I enjoyed watching both of these Final’s matches…

Former Mets’ pitcher and current baseball TV analyst, Ron Darling, wrote a book called 108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game.  In that oeuvre, Ron Darling had some less-than-wonderful things to say about his former Mets teammate Lenny Dykstra.  According to the book Dykstra went into full racist-mode against “Oil Can” Boyd who was a starter for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series between the Mets and the Sox.  Dykstra proceeded to sue Darling for defamation of character saying that Darling made up the whole story.

My expectation in situations such as this is that some sort of “financial accommodation” is reached between the parties and everything just recedes quietly into history.  It appears that is not going to happen here.

Darling’s lawyers just filed a motion with the judge hearing this case to dismiss the entire matter.  Here are two points made by Darling’s lawyers:

“Dykstra is a classic libel-proof plaintiff, whose reputation is so bad that he simply cannot be defamed.”

And …

“[Dykstra’s] overwhelming and uncontradictable public record evidence by authors, journalists and Dykstra himself in an autobiography demonstrates on the basis of his own misconduct and words and the public record of them Dykstra has already placed an ‘irremovable stain and permanent cloud’ on his own reputation.”

The reference above to Dykstra’s autobiography, House of Nails, is interesting because in that book Dykstra admits that he has engaged in blackmail/extortion at points in his life.  The quoted part above about an “irremovable stain and permanent cloud” on Dykstra’s public reputation comes from the assertions made in Dykstra’s lawsuit that started this entire exchange.

Next up … Len Dykstra will claim that he was misquoted in his autobiography about that extortion stuff.  That will be an interesting thing for the judge to contemplate…

Last week, there was a report out of the talks between the NFL and the NFLPA regarding a new CBA that the NFL owners have not given up on the idea of an 18-game regular season.  According to reports, the current proposal – presumably tailored to accommodate the players’ lack of interest in such an expansion – is that no player would be allowed to participate in more than 16 of the 18 games.  This is a bad idea on multiple levels:

  • Let me use the LA Rams as an example.  Twice in an 18-game season, Rams’ fans – and their opponent’s fans – would not get to watch Jared Goff play.  Instead they could see Blake Bortles or Brandon Allen or John Wolford play QB.  If the Rams’ opponent also opted to sit the starter in that game, you would have the moral equivalent of another NFL Exhibition Game counting toward playoff status.
  • Much of the dominance of the NFL in the US sports landscape centers on the wagering possibilities and the wagering interest.  Randomly inserting subs into lineups cannot enhance the “wagering experience”.  When I was growing up, this sort of behavior was referred to as “pissing in the soup”.

The lure here – obviously – is that an 18-game season will generate more TV money because there will be more games to put on TV; there is nothing more behind such a proposal.  Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope math for a moment.

  • The schedule would increase by 12.5%.  Let’s assume that means TV revenue would also grow by 12.5%.  [It could grow by a bigger percentage since new TV deals will be coming up in a couple of years, but hold that thought…]
  • Almost half of that revenue would require the salary cap – and salary floor – for every team to go up by the amount of the increase.
  • Assume for a moment that the salary cap comes from the TV money.  Currently, that cap is set at $188M.  That means the salary cap would go up by $11.75M per team just due to the added TV money.  That is money in the players’ pockets for every year that the 18-game season continues to exist.
  • And, don’t forget, the owners pocket the same added $11.75M because they get to keep the “other half” of the added TV revenue.

I have proposed this before, and I think my idea is a better one if the league wants to go to 18 games and the players want some accommodation regarding injuries and fatigue.

  • Play 18 regular season games AND give each team 2 BYE weeks.  That extends the regular season by 3 weeks.  The accommodation for that is to start the season one-week earlier than current scheduling; eliminate the useless empty week in the playoff schedule and move the Super Bowl back one week in February.
  • Any team playing on Thursday night will get one of its BYE weeks the week before that Thursday night game – – except for the first one of the year of course.
  • Eliminate the rule about dressing only some of the squad for each game.  Everyone on the roster who can walk should be dressed for the game; they do not have to be used, but they should all be available.
  • Using players on the “practice squad” should also be allowable and the two sides need to address how to compensate any “practice squad players” who are pressed into service in a real game.

My proposal here only applies if the lure of that TV money is too much for the two sides to ignore.  I am perfectly happy with the 16-game season as it stands.  The only change I would make there is putting in the 2 BYE weeks per team which would allow the “Thursday night participants” to avoid the dreaded 3-day turnaround for regular season games.

Finally, Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week:

“Countdown:  Switching from sport to religion, there are only 8 more Sundays until the first NFL Sunday.”

That reminds me; I gotta get cracking on those NFL season predictions…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “Wimbledon Finals”

  1. If I am the TV negotiator, and the proposed NFL change is in play, I believe I will be smart enough to write a clause in the contract that pays the NFL less if star players are missing from the lineup of either team. And, even less if both teams are sitting star players.

    1. Doug:

      I believe you have put too much leverage in the hands of the TV negotiator(s) here. Remember, the NFL is THE highest rated program on every network that carries NFL games. Also remember that the FINAL episode of Game of Thrones (highly anticipated indeed) drew fewer total viewers than 71 NFL regular season games last year. The networks WANT to carry NFL games – – badly.

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